Friday, January 16, 2015

Updated Google My Business Guidelines

In December 2014, Google made some changes to Google My Business quality guidelines, including adding specific rules for multi-location businesses.

In February 2014, Google announced that it would allow the addition of a single "descriptor" to the business name in Google listings. As of December 2014, Google abandons the use of descriptors and only the real world business name (legal business name) is permitted for use, again. This point is emphasised by Google: “Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding”.

Other point to highlight is that as of October 2014, you are able to add other users as managers to a business account and these managers will be able to manage locations in the business account simply by logging into their own accounts, which is good news for multi-location businesses. In December update Google clarifies it by saying “Only business owners or authorized representatives may verify and manage their business information on Google My Business. If you wish to share access to your local page with others, you can do so by adding a manager.”

The update also includes guidelines for:

- Business information (Address, website, phone number, categories…)
- Service area businesses vs. Storefront businesses
- Chains and brands
- Departments within other business, universities or institutions
- Individual practitioners (doctors, lawyers…)

We suggest you check out the Google quality guidelines for business pages as soon as possible, as you may discover you need to make some edits to your Google My Business account to be guideline -compliant.

As we know, these guidelines are generally considered rules, not guidelines, as failure to comply can cause your listing to be suspended or removed.

If you’re new to Google My Business, check out our blog post about why you should get Google My Business and how to get started.

If you would like to discuss about your local marketing strategy with a professional, you are always welcome to give our Digital Strategists a call on 01202 678777.

Author: Aysegul Yigitbasi

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Top Content Engagement Tracking Tools

Many tools available to create and track content engagement
Tracking Engaging Content

There are so many fantastic tools to assist with creating content and then tracking and grading how users engage with the content. Here are some of our favourite free options to help get you started:
  • Google Keyword Planner in Google AdWords
  • Webmaster Tools
  • Google Analytics Behavior metrics
  • Site Search
  • Quicksprout
  • Hootsuite
  • Hubspot Marketing Grader
  • Twitter
  • Klout

A shortlist of some of the many paid for options that are worth considering:
  • MozPro
  • Truesocialmetrics
  • Sitebeam
  • Skyword
  • eyequant

There are many other platforms and tools that deserve their own lists and we will have to come back to these in more detail, especially the tools to track and monitor Social Media Influence and Engagement, for when you really need to get to know 'Who knows about you?, Who is talking to you? And Who is buying from you?':
  • social media monitoring tools 
  • content creation tools
  • content discovery tools
  • content curation tools
  • email marketing tools
  • Technical SEO grading tools
  • personalisation tools
  • search ranking tools
  • and some cost effective lead generation tools
We will have to say etc. etc. etc.

What marketing tool have you discovered that made SEO and customer engagement even more enjoyable?

Author: Fiona Anderson

Friday, June 13, 2014

Google My Business

In one of our previous blog posts, we had been talking about the Google Places updates saying that Google has been automatically upgrading Google Places listings from the old system to the new Google Places dashboard and creating Google Plus pages under the same Gmail address.

On the 11th of June, Google launched “Google My Business” which is a further integration for putting all Google services useful to businesses in one place, helping businesses connect with customers via Search, Maps, and Google+.

The former page management dashboard has been replaced by a cleaner-looking My Business page and it makes it easier than ever to update the business information. From that page, managers can post content, track analytics, respond to customers, and even launch Google Hangouts. The new system will also integrate with Google's AdWords platform and provide businesses with data about customers and engagement.

The main benefits of Google My Business for customer engagement can be summarized as below.

• Update your business info on Search, Maps, and Google+ to make it easy for customers to get in touch.
• Add photos of your business and a virtual tour of your business interior to help customers see what makes your business unique.
• Connect directly with your fans and customers by sharing news, events, and other important updates from your Google+ page.
• Stay on top of reviews from across the Web, and respond to Google reviews.
• Understand how people find and interact with your business using Custom Insights and integration with AdWords Express.

Signing up for Google My Business

You can simply click the “Get on Google” button at the top of the Google My Business homepage, and follow the steps to add your business information to Google. Please note that any edits will not appear on Google until you verify your business. If your business has ten or more locations, you can add them all at once using the bulk upload tool.

Business owners that had been using Places for Business or Google+ will be transitioned to the new platform. In other words, if you previously used Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages Dashboard to manage your business information, your account has been automatically upgraded to Google My Business.

This new platform will also be welcomed by people who manage non-local Google Plus pages.

If you have a local business and would like to discuss about your integrated local marketing strategy, you are always welcome to give our Digital Consultants a call on 01202 678777.

Author: Aysegul Yigitbasi

Monday, June 09, 2014

Top Ten Tips for YouTube company page engagement

YouTube is a great channel for engagement with a targeted audience
YouTube Engagement Tips

We are regularly asked for our top tips for engaging on social networks. This month we will share some tips for engaging and optimising your YouTube channel pages.

1. Know who, what and why you are connecting on YouTube.  Define your goals and sketch out a storyboard of the video content in a video strategy document.

2. Create a content plan for uploads and comments on other channels. Create consistent, relevant content for each audience, on a regular basis.

3. Listen and know your audience. Interact with your audience. Talk directly to your audience. Respond expediently to comments, establish your expertise, inspire discussions, encourage sharing and build relationships.

4. Identify and follow similar people, influencers, events and organisations. Comment on relevant videos that support your brand identity,

5. Choose a visually appealing cover image. First impressions count. Also select attractive thumbnails for each engagement-focused video clip.

6. Add keywords and full URL link on the first line of the description that links to your website. Add interesting profile information in the About Us section. Add a call to action; written in the description, in the video, or within the video annotation for engagement and to encourage visitors to research your brand further, especially where the profile has a review.

7. Optimise videos uploaded with SEO rich descriptions and tags. Generally, keep the video under 4 minutes: maximum 5 minutes for training videos and short 30 second personal story snippets for variety of engagement options. There are a few specific YouTube optimisation tips in this earlier blog post and YouTube channel optimisation tips.

8. Submit an XML file to Google identifying videos on your website; visitors will then come through to your website rather than to your YouTube page for fuller brand engagement.

9. Make the most of the monitoring and measurement activity metrics that matter on the page, including: Subscribers, Favourites, Shares; Likes to dislikes ratio; Sentiment of comments (ratio of positive/negative); Video retention; Tracking attention span and viewership is helpful in determining a level of interest, repeat this monitoring over a period over a period of time, to assist with benchmarking improvements and gaining insights into trends.

10. Cross promote other channels from your YouTube account by adding links to social profiles on your other networks for cross-device and cross-channel experience.

With 31% of YouTube users saying they would be among the first people to try new products, compared with 14 per cent of non-YouTube users; that's a big market out their for businesses and video is certainly worth factoring into a digital marketing strategy.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Some Pros and Cons of Display Advertising

Google has a well established display advertising offer
Google Display Advertising

As part of a businesses digital transformation, it is likely that a business will want to consider whether or not to use ‘display advertising’ in AdWords. We have outlined some quick pros and cons of display advertising to assist a business with the decision making.

The business would need to do some restructuring of the AdWords account.
Budget would be required, either additional budget be assigned, or diverted from existing campaigns.
A web developer would need to add some additional tracking code to the website.

The primary use of display advertising and not just in AdWords, has generally be considered for Brand building, although some businesses do manage to make display advertising drive leads and sales, where Brand building is a positive side-effect.

Display ads have an incredibly low engagement rate: the average banner ad has a 0.1% click through rate (CTR) and the standard 468x60 banner has a 0.04% CTR

The key to making display advertising cost effect and gaining a decent ROI/be profitable, a business
would need to:
1.    optimise every single part of the online conversion funnel
2.    place ads on websites your target market visits
3.    design optimised ads that relate to the content on those sites
4.    the message, and especially the headline, is a vital component in successful display advertising
5.    ‘message match’ - when visitors are instantly reaffirmed that they can get what they came for – because the headline matches the link (or ad) they came from – they are more likely to remain on the landing page
6.    poor message match will produce a higher bounce rate which is interpreted by Google as a poor user experience. The stronger your message match is, the better the user experience is – making the account history more positive, in turn lowering the costs
7.    the display ad has a graphical component to it, which needs to follow the design of the ad through to the landing page
8.    develop landing pages that align with the ads and the websites they're placed on
9.    A focused landing page, on the other hand, has an attention ratio of 1:1. (whereas, if the visitor is sent to the homepage we could expect that this would typically be around 40:1 meaning that there are 19 distracting actions and 1 desired action – hence needing a focused landing page).

Display advertising has always been considered ‘tough’. The debate continues in the industry as some speculate that there are up to 54% of online display ads “never even seen”.
Some of the wastage can be attributed to the user’s journey:
•    technical glitches, such as when an ad is displayed on a part of a browser not open on a computer screen
•    user habits
•    users not scrolling below the fold
•    users clicking away before the ad can load
•    and even outright fraud based on fake traffic

The overall stats for paying attention to any kind of advert is 6% - 8% (if the stats can be believed)
There are businesses that get some better results by making their ads interactive and rich media display formats.

In conclusion:
If a business's’s Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is awareness, then display advertising is one of the channels that business could consider using.

If a business is still in the early stages of currently trying to determine audience and message via PPC, reviewing their Google analytics reporting, especially Demographics and Interest Reports and testing which ads work, then it is worth noting that display advertising is even more challenging if audience and message are not already established.

If the above doesn’t convince you then maybe these 2 negative 'tongue-in-cheek' quotes/stats will:
  • You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad.
  • The average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month. Do you remember any?
On the other hand, this recent quote from Econsultancy about Display Retargeting could be a tempting way into display advertising
  • Display retargeting tags are present on 52% of the top 2,000 UK websites and 48% of the top US websites. 
There are pros and cons but it is worth considering, if only for the following 2 reasons:
  • Display advertising in UK accounted for 30% of spend in 2013, similar to previous years.
  • Rich media images, animation and video are often more attractive to a user than static text and form part of the increasing 'visual web'.

We hope this helps answer some of your display advertising queries, compiled with thanks to some well known comments by industry experts on display advertising. We look forward to hearing from you on whether your business would like to pursue Display Advertising as a online marketing channel.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quick Overview on Google Places Updates

Google+ Local Overview

As you may have noticed, Google has been automatically upgrading Google Places listings from the old system to the new Google Places dashboard and creating Google Plus pages under the same Gmail address. This resulted in the existence of two (or more) Google Plus Pages for a given local business - one for business and at least one for local.

Currently, it is not possible to merge two Google+ Pages (unless they are both of the type: local and for the same business at the same address). It is also not possible to pass followers from one page to another.

To make the decision to handle these accounts and to determine which of your pages should get the most exposure, you need to think about the following questions:

• What is the goal of your social presence and who is the target audience?
• Is the company national in scope or do most of its customers come from the immediate region?

Within this update , there has also been a change on the Google Places quality guidelines (changed on Feb 2014). You can now include a single descriptor to your business’ real-world title that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers. However, marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.

Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are "Starbucks Downtown" or "Joe’s Pizza Restaurant". Examples that would not be accepted would be "#1 Seattle Plumbing", "Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery" or "Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas".

If you are not sure about your Google Places settings, please review Google Places quality guidelines because failure to follow most of them will either keep you from being listed at all or from ranking well in Google.

If you have a local business and would like to discuss about your integrated local marketing strategy, you are always welcome to give our Digital Consultants a call on 01202 678777.

Author: Aysegul Yigitbasi

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Geek Video of the Month

This month’s Geek Video of the Month is a Multi-platform 3rd person shooter-strategy game "HordeMaster" which has been developed by Gamester, the start-up company, based in Istanbul, Turkey.

“This browser-based Flash multiplayer game blends elements from the RPG, strategy and third-person genres together. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, gamers are tasked with building a base from which they can conquer the world. Half of the game plays like a Tower Defence title as players attempt to design a base that other users will find hard to penetrate, while the other half is styled as a shooter in which players raid other users’ bases”. Develop, 2014

This game can be played smoothly even on the devices with low configuration, and even though it has a high visual quality, it does not require any plug-ins to play on PC and mobile devices.

HordeMaster hasn’t been officially released yet, however, it has already won several awards:

• Best “Social, Casual and Online” game – Selected Projects, Game Connection America 2014

• Most Anticipated Facebook MMO – Level magazine, Turkey

A few months ago, a closed beta test was conducted by Gamester with a small group of players and lots of changes were made to the game taking the feedback into consideration.

HordeMaster beta will be live very soon, so stay tuned... In the meantime, you may want to sign up for Beta access to get notified when Hordemaster is available to play.

Author: Aysegul Yigitbasi